This must be true, because it is being printed in a newspaper.
- Dave Barry
Its a bicycle helmet. Or a nautilus sea-shell. Or something else .
But whatever the marketing companys custom-designed logo for Columbia County may be, theres one thing its not: A hit with commissioners.
The Alison Group, a marketing company, produced several different versions of a proposed Columbia County insignia, three featuring an outline of South Carolina. (Actually, its a map of Columbia County, which apparently is the countys only universally recognizable symbol, if we confine the scope of universal to only those people who can tell the difference at a glance between the shape of our county and the Palmetto State.)
On the three logos - distinguished by different colors - lines radiate from the county map to fill a plump swoosh. That shape resembles a bike helmet, and it brought spontaneous snickering from the audience at Tuesdays County Commission meeting when the logo was unveiled.
Embarrassed by the laughter, all three logos ran crying to the bathroom and Refused To Come Out Until Everyone Apologizes. (The logos last job was as Pregnant Chads in the 2000 Florida election, so theyre still a little sensitive.)
I must confess that I felt a little guilty giggling at someone elses creation. Graphic artists and marketing gurus obviously spent a lot of time working on these proposed designs, and their collective feelings are probably hurt at the derisive rejection from such art-illiterate Philistines.
But, hey, Alison Associates is getting paid for their work, so its not as if we self-appointed art critics were laughing at a kindergartner for coloring outside the lines. They got paid pretty well, too - $31,000. Thanks, fellow taxpayers!
Part of that money also paid for a spiffy new Sheriffs Office logo that has enjoyed more favorable reviews. That artwork features a stylized outline of a police officer whacking a criminal with a nightstick, with the slogan Beating Criminals, Beating Crime.
Hah. I made that up. The actual slogan says We Wear This Badge For You. And This Gun. And This Can of Pepper Spray. Well, OK, I made some of that up, too. The real logo is much more dignified, and no real or cartoon criminals were harmed in its production. (Its my understanding that professional stunt-cartoon criminals were used.)
While the Sheriffs Office is happy with its logo, which will be used on a line of designer clothing available in stores in time for Christmas (just kidding - it probably wont be ready until spring), commissioners are less enthusiastic about theirs.
So, having failed to get a suitable logo from a professional marketing group, commissioners are seeking help from real experts: Children.
Using free space donated by The News-Times (slogan: Judged Georgias Most Contest-Happy News-paper), commissioners will soon ask for help from school kids. Promising a prize of substantially less than $31,000, commissioners want to encourage amateur artists (not just kids, but anyone willing to try) to design a logo to capture the essence of Columbia County.
County officials hope local children, artists and afghan-knitters are excited by the prospect of winning a prize for creating a new logo. We are, too, and well be thrilled to make a big fuss over the winner if one emerges from this competition.(Send only serious ideas to the commissioners; but if you draw any funny suggestions, please, oh please, send those to me.)
And we all promise, cross our hearts and hope to die, that we wont laugh if anyone colors outside the lines.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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